A busy night of basketball kicks off the new week, with 11 games on the NBA betting slate including a matchup between the New Orleans Pelicans and Boston Celtics.
The Celtics have won their last two games, while the Pelicans are heating up and making a late playoff push with wins in three of their last four contests.
Can New Orleans stay hot in a road tilt versus Boston on Monday? Find out with our best free NBA picks and predictions for Pelicans vs. Celtics on March 29 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
New Orleans Pelicans at Boston Celtics betting preview
Pelicans: Jaxson Hayes C (Questionable), James Johnson PF (Questionable), Lonzo Ball PG (Questionable).
Celtics: Jaylen Brown (Out), Tristan Thompson C (Out), Semi Ojeleye PF (Out).
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Betting trend to know
The Over is 30-10 in the Pelicans' last 40 games. Find more NBA betting trends for Pelicans vs. Celtics.
NBA sharp money and line movement reportBy Patrick Everson
Boston landed on TwinSpires' odds board as a 4-point favorite and is down to -2.5 as of 5 p.m. ET, in part due to Jaylen Brown being out tonight. It's two-way point-spread action, with the Celtics taking 59 percent of tickets and the Pelicans drawing 58 percent of money. The total is down a point to 229.5, despite a 4/1 ticket count and 3/1 money on the Over.Check out the full line movement for this game
Against the spread (ATS) pick
The Celtics have had a disappointing season after an exciting run to the Eastern Conference Finals last year and will need to get hot to avoid a play-in scenario come playoff time. Not many would have had the Celtics at .500 and fighting for a playoff spot, but such is life in the Eastern Conference this season. Their talent is a good bet to win out, though, and they’ve won two games in a row and could easily still finish as high as the No. 4 seed.
Boston will enter this showdown against the improving Pelicans having gone 4-1 ATS over its last fives games and 3-2 SU. The two losses were close, with one coming in overtime and the other a two-point defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks after the Celtics nearly erased a 25-point deficit. They’ve since added help in the form of guard Evan Fournier from the Orlando Magic, and he'll make his debut tonight after sitting for a couple of games due to COVID protocols.
The Pelicans find themselves in a similar situation, albeit in the more challenging West. They’ve won three of their last four games and five of their last eight (6-2 ATS over that stretch), and are locked in a battle for one of the final play-in spots.
New Orleans has gotten monster production out of star Zion Williamson during that stretch, as the bulldozer has averaged 29.8 points on 67.8 percent shooting from the field, and his past two contests are his highest-scoring NBA games. Zion dropped a career-high 39 points to go along with 10 rebounds in a loss to the Denver Nuggets and followed it up with a 38-point effort in the Pelicans’ win over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday.
With Zion playing the way he is, the high-scoring Pelicans – who have modestly tightened up their defensive play – are dangerous any time they take the court. This is a game they can win, and we at least like them to cover.
PREDICTION: Pelicans +4 (-110)
Despite going Under in four of their last five games and starting the season with five straight Unders, the Pelicans still have the best O/U mark in the NBA at 30-15.
They’ve managed that by being a near-Top-5 offense – and Bottom-5 defense – for much of the season. The Pelicans can drop buckets on anyone, as they’re scoring the fifth-most points per game in the NBA at 115.4, but opposing teams routinely carve up their defense to the tune of 114.8 points per game on average. That combination has helped them cash the Over in 66.7 percent of their games, including 11 straight at one point during the year. The Pels are 6-7 since that ridiculous stretch but they’ve continued their high-end offensive production and deserve some credit for improving their defensive efficiency by three points since the All-Star break.
Boston has been a strong play for Over bettors, too, going 25-21 (Top 10 in the NBA), including 3-1 O/U over its last four games. The Celtics aren’t exceptionally great on either end of the floor but have a number of capable two-way players in stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown (who was ruled out Monday with a hip injury), and pesky guard Marcus Smart.
They lack consistency but can be a tough matchup on any given night—Tatum and Brown are averaging nearly 50 points per game, Fournier should only help the offense, and Robert Williams has shown big flashes on both ends (his defensive rating per 100 possessions places him among the Top 10 in the Association).
It’s typically not a wise move to bet the Under against the Pelicans, and certainly not against a team that cashes the Over at a solid clip like the Celtics. Expect the stars to roll tonight.
PREDICTION: Over 230.5 (-110)
Player prop pick
No one is slowing down Zion right now, so let’s capitalize while he’s riding this hot wave.
The 20-year-old beast has been feasting and the Pelicans haven’t been shy in feeding him the ball. Williamson is averaging six more touches per game since the All-Star break and since Lonzo Ball has been out – a span of four games and he’s questionable Monday – Zion’s touches have skyrocketed to 72 per game compared to 59 on the season.
That in itself is good news for those betting on Zion to deliver, but it’s especially welcoming when you consider that only five players getting more than 20 minutes per game are scoring more points per touch than the Pelicans power forward. He gets a lot of those touches in the paint and with his 60-plus field goal percentage, that means a lot of easy baskets. His true shooting percentage of 66.6 ranks sixth in the NBA.
Zion has been doing it all over his last three games, dishing out five-plus assists in each of them. He's totaled 49, 54, and 41 combined points, rebounds, and assists in those contests. With that prop for tonight set at 39.5...you know what to do.
PREDICTION: Zion Williamson Over 39.5 points+rebounds+assists (-119)
Pelicans vs Celtics betting card
- Pelicans +4 (-110)
- Over 230.5 (-110)
- Zion Williamson Over 39.5 points+rebounds+assists (-119)
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